This is a reworked post from almost exactly a year ago. The question is evergreen and the conversations it started were quite helpful then, as I think they will be now.
If you’re on the fence about making the leap to self-employed writer and how to make a living, perhaps something here will help you along.
About me: I only have myself to rely on for income. There is no alimony or child support or money from any non-client coming to me. I do not have any children to feed or any crazy-ridiculous expenses to worry about such as music lessons, sports teams, camp getaways, college tuition, etc.
I usually hear one of these two replies when people learn I’m an independent writer/editor: “Hey, that’s fabulous that you have no one but yourself to worry about! No money worries at all!” or “Oh, wow, if something happens to you, you might be up the proverbial river without the proverbial paddle. Does’t that stress you out?”
I don’t have a formula, but here’s what there is to know about how I am now 11+ years into being my own boss:
- When I decided to leave the corporate world, I gave myself 1 year to get my finances in order and find affordable health insurance. It was/is important to me to have at least 4 months of savings to cover bills.
- At the time I quit, I downsized (sold my house) and have been renting ever since, which is less responsibility and has more predictable expenses (to me), so I can save money as well as pay myself.
- I am frugal – this means I minimize my bills, but I’m not lacking. I have Internet, a smartphone, use AC, and buy too much food when I go to the grocery store; I don’t work by candlelight to save on my electric bill or live in a library for free WiFi. 🙂 I always pay my credit card in full each month to avoid finance charges.
- I maintain my older vehicle instead of having car payments.
- I network to meet other solopreneurs and learn how they thrive in their business and try tips I learn.
- I use LinkedIn to find contract opportunities.
- I only take on jobs that interest me, which keeps me happy and lets me give my best to the client.
- I absolutely love what I do and (literally) say “Thank you” out loud every day to the cosmos.
I don’t know of a magic bullet for self-employment success, but I know (1) it’s important to love what you do and that you have to work at it. If you want it to work and approach it honestly, I believe you’re more than 75% to your goal.
And (2) having money readily available if monthly income checks don’t arrive when planned is quite helpful at keeping stress about money at under control.
What is your tip to someone thinking about becoming self-employed?
Or, what was your final hurdle before jumping into self-employment?
Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.